This is a challenging time for people throughout the world. Many of the activities that have formed the fabric of our lives have abruptly halted. How do we respond to all these simultaneous changes? It can seem all too easy to feel deprived, angry, frustrated, or depressed.
But there is an alternative. We can strive to express unselfishness and love. I’ve found it helpful to consider that even though it can seem hard to see this amid the chaos, God, who is divine Love, is here. This infinite Love is the antidote to fear, frustration, and anger.
Although it involved a very different situation, the sudden shift in how we’re all living our lives right now has reminded me of a time when my own personal situation involved a great shift in the way I was living – and taught me a lot about selflessness. I had been a teacher, and after our daughter was born, my life as I had known it screeched to a halt. Instead of managing a classroom, I was dealing with piles of laundry and a crying baby. I loved my daughter dearly but became depressed with the makeup of my new life.
With the help of a Christian Science practitioner, I began to learn that I had a choice. If I were willing to let go of self-pity and instead see things from God’s perspective, it would free me to be more joyful and feel more at peace. God wants only good for each of His children. In fact, Christian Science explains that we are actually the very expression of God’s goodness and love. That’s our true, spiritual identity.
As I turned to God in prayer to better understand ideas such as these, I began to realize that God-given joy and purpose can never be taken from us. This isn’t about ignoring unhappy feelings or just asking God to help us feel better about our lives. It’s about glimpsing the spiritual reality that as God’s children, reflecting unlimited divine goodness, we can actually never be cut off from good.
This kind of profound change in the way we think about ourselves and our circumstances can have an equally profound effect. In this case, my life turned around. I became happier and eventually entered graduate school, which opened amazing vistas for me and my family.
When we’re feeling jostled by events out of our control, we can pray to feel God’s loving presence, which dissipates fear, anxiety, frustration, and sadness. God is always with us and everyone, sustaining and guiding each of us. We can trust God to lead us step by step through challenges of all kinds. It might seem reasonable to negatively and complainingly react to a difficult situation, but when we turn to God for inspiration instead, we find blessings and progress in unexpected ways.
Recently I’ve been reminded of something Mary Baker Eddy, a devout follower of Christ Jesus and the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote. At several points in her life, she either chose or was thrust into isolation. She describes one such period as a quiet, inspired time of deep prayer and spiritual exploration – “sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 109).
We may be alone at this time, but we don’t have to be lonely or self-pitying because God, infinite Love itself, is always with us. We can let this unity with God nurture in us a love for humanity, a spirit of unselfishness and joy. Although we can’t have normal physical connections at the moment, we can connect with the world in spiritual, God-inspired love. And as we do, we will feel more of the peace and joy of our closeness to God.
As the Christian Science practitioner lovingly helped me see, we do have a choice to make. We can let an inward-facing mindset take over our thinking, or we can choose to turn our thought outward in a mental embrace of our fellow men and women. This can be a time of great spiritual growth, inspiration, and selflessness. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares” (Science and Health, p. 574). Let’s choose wisely!
Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the coronavirus. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.